Piano Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op.1 (1890-91, rev. 1917)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op.18 (1900-01)
Leif Ove Andsnes
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Antonio Pappano
rec. Philharmonie, Berlin, 3-4 June 2005 (No.2,
live) and 5 June 2005 (No.1)
EMI CLASSICS 5181842
It seems like no time at all since this was first released. And
given that this brace of concertos was recorded back in June 2005
that’s in fact the case. It reappears in a series emblazoned with
‘Gramophone’ and ‘The Penguin Guide’ recommendations, and at a
lower price bracket, now that the first flush of youth has flown.
I heard the Second
at the time of its first release and was as much impressed by
Pappano’s handling of the Berlin Philharmonic in repertoire
I don’t associate with him as I was by Andsnes’s unfussy, straightforward
and yet expressive playing. The feeling still persists. The
Second was recorded live – I assume some patching was also undertaken,
or splicing between the two dates noted in the booklet, the
3rd and 4th of June. The balance was finely judged and the Berlin’s
bass-up sonority well captured, though not unduly spotlit. The
violas are particularly plangent and their blending with their
collegiate string choir colleagues is fastidiously maintained
but never sounds either manicured or predictable. Pappano in
fact encourages some richly verdant string tone. In short the
orchestra sounds as fine was one would expect. Andsnes and Pappano
choose good, sensible tempi for all three movements and they
bring a real sense of dynamism and verve to the finale. It’s
singularly committed playing all round.
The First Concerto
was recorded in the Philharmonie as well, but without an audience.
However there’s no great diminution of drama and incisive interplay.
In fact the rapport between orchestra, conductor and soloist
is just as vital as in the more popular concerto. It is though
just a touch less intense – the lessening is slight but noticeable
not least in the peroration of the first movement where perhaps
a live performance would have given greater vehemence to the
characterisation of the music making.
Still, this is carping.
With another warmly textured slow movement to enjoy and finger
perfect pianism the First nestles in nicely next to the fiery
Second. Given similar virtues in the recording booth and in
the light of such powerfully shaped readings – allied to which
is the tempting price reduction – this is a rewarding and enticing
from previous months Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the
discs reviewed. details We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to
which you refer.